Eight steps supporting new board members' success
Many credit union boards think the new director onboarding process starts when new board members have been elected to serve. But really, the key to building an effective onboarding program is not to wait for the election to take place. Just like board meetings run best when advance work is done to set them up for success, onboarding of new directors is greatly facilitated by steps boards can take before your members elect new directors.
Consider taking the following key steps before the board election:
- Develop a matrix of your “ideal board” for achieving strategic goals. Create a skills matrix outlining the attributes and skills your board members currently have. Then, create a separate matrix showing those skills directors will need to carry your credit union successfully into the future. Be sure to do this with your strategic plan in mind.
- Identify board composition gaps. Compare your board’s current skills matrix with the skills matrix of your future, ideal board. What weaknesses do you see in your current board? Conduct a gap analysis. What attributes or skills are limited – or missing?
- Identify potential board candidates. Given the gaps you identify in step 2, what types of directors should you actively seek? You can even consider looking beyond existing credit union members and recruit board members from the community. Remember, they can always join the credit union, and they might add real value to your efforts.
- Involve, engage and educate potential directors. Show them the love! Ways to bring potential directors into the fold might include having them be a part of an associate board member program, or inviting them to a local community event. At the very least, you will want to be sure they visit a local branch and meet with the CEO and some of your credit union’s best and brightest staff.
- Do a background check and talk to references for potential board members. Remember, your potential, new volunteer will be responsible – legally and financially – for the credit union. Do your due diligence.
- Gauge the prospective director’s level of Interest. Here’s where you can begin to introduce your potential candidate to your other directors. Begin to take his or her pulse more formally to gauge his or her interest in candidacy.
- Confirm the potential director’s interest in and willingness to serve. Have a candid conversation about what time and knowledge is involved. Talk about the risks, too.
- Formally invite the potential director to stand for election. Here’s where your hard work pays off. Make the ask.
If your candidate agrees to run—and is ultimately elected—you’ll need a process in place for orienting him or her to the work of your board. That will be the subject of our December column. Get it delivered to you directly by downloading the myCUES App (for iPhone or iPad) and selecting the “board” topic area, and/or by signing up for the CUES Director Advantage monthly e-newsletter.
Michael Daigneault, CCD, is CEO of CUES strategic provider Quantum Governance L3C, Vienna, Va., and has more than 30 years of experience in the field of governance, management, strategy, planning and facilitation. With more than 40 percent of Quantum Governance’s projects being with credit unions, the organization fields more engagements in the credit union community than in any other. Daigneault served as an executive in residence at CUES Governance Leadership Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.